Where you one of those kids who would smash your toy cars together? If so, I bet your dream job lies in Sweden in Volvo’s crash test laboratory. More than 3,000 full-scale crashes have taken place, making this the most used and (still) most advanced crash research centre on the planet.
“We can replicate most of the accident scenarios that take place out on the roads. By analysing the results and then testing new safety technology, we can improve the safety level in our cars so that they become even safer in real-life traffic conditions,” said Thomas Broberg, senior safety advisor at Volvo Cars.
How advanced is this place? Well, they’ve just installed new cameras…that can take video at 200,000 frames per second.
“The degree of precision in a test in which two moving cars collide at 31 mph is 2.5 centimetres. This corresponds to two thousandths of a second. By way of comparison, a blink of the human eye takes about 60 thousandths of a second. This says a whole lot about the laboratory’s precision,” says Broberg.
Click through for some incredible facts about the safety center.
Facts from Volvo Cars Safety Centre
- • The crash-test laboratory was inaugurated in 2000.
- • The crash test laboratory has a capacity to carry out more than 400 full-scale tests per year.
- • The crash-test laboratory has one fixed (154 metre) and one movable (108 metre) test track. The movable test track can be moved from 0 to 90 degrees to perform crashes such as frontal impacts, rear end collisions, side impacts, and collisions between two moving cars at different angles and speeds.
- • On the fixed crash test track, the maximum speed for a passenger car is 75 mph. On the movable test track, maximum speed is 50 mph. The speeds on each test track can be regulated independently of one another.
- • Point of impact precision in a test in which two moving cars hit at 31 mph is 2.5 centimetres, corresponding to two thousandths of a second. By comparison, the blink of a human eye takes about 60 thousandths of a second.
- • On the fixed track it is also possible to crash-test trucks at speeds of up to 50 mph.
- • Crash tests on both test tracks can also be carried out in the opposite direction. At the other end of the fixed test track there is a 15×70 metre concrete slab that is used for various tests such as rollovers. At the other end of the movable test track, the surrounding landscape is an integrated part of the crash-test laboratory. Here crash tests are carried out against a variety of objects found in the traffic environment.
- • At the point where the two test tracks meet, there is a 6 metre deep, Plexiglas-covered pit for filming crash tests from below. The cameras that film the tests from above are installed in a rig 11 metres above the point of impact.
- • There are about 50 high-speed cameras. The fastest can take 200,000 frames per second. The smallest cameras can be used to study the way in which small components inside the cars are affected by the collision forces.
- • The laboratory’s crash block weighs 850 tonnes. It is moved with the help of air cushion technique. Different types of crash test barriers can be built on three sides of the block.
- • There are around 20 other barriers to support Volvos own extensive testing, based on knowledge from real life situations, as well as the various official test requirements.
- • Volvo Cars’ also performs crash tests in a unique crash test simulator using a reinforced car body with the actual interior that is to be tested. The crash simulator can recreate the tipping, or pitch, in real-life collisions without destroying the car body. It can also simulate intrusion into the passenger compartment, using ten pistons representing different parts of the car.
- • A new car model that is being crash tested in the lab has already been tested thousands of times in Volvo’s computers. In the computer a crash test can efficiently be simulated a number of times with different parameters without destroying a car.
- • Volvo Cars also has 100 different types of crash-test dummy to represent men, women and children of different sizes, weights and ages. There are different dummies used for different situations and different purpose e.g. frontal crash test dummies, side impact dummies and rear end dummies.